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Six of the best-kept secrets in the Rocky Mountain National Park


31 January, 2023


9 June, 2023

It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting in the spring, summer, or snow-laden winter months, the Rocky Mountain National Park is a true perennial delight. Whether you’re a nature-lover or a thrill-seeker, there’s always somewhere - or something - new to experience here at any time of the year; some of which happen to be a little more of a secret than others.

Uncover the hidden alpine charms of Colorado

If you’re planning a visit to Colorado and its spectacular national parks, here are six of the best-kept secrets in the Rocky Mountains that you’ll want to add straight onto your ‘must-see’ list.

Bear Lake

Just ten miles southeast of Estes Park, the glass-like waters of Bear Lake sit at an elevation of 9,449 feet. Reflected in the waters are the snow-capped summits of Longs Peak, towering above the masses of aspen trees that encircle this natural spectacle. One of the easiest ways to reach it is along the scenic Bear Lake Trailhead, an easygoing half-mile hike from the nearby car park on Bear Lake Road.

As you might have guessed, the lake was named after the large bear population inhabiting the local area - while grizzlies have become extinct here, black bears are still known to roam the surrounding parks.

Moraine Park

A vast expanse of open land carved out by glaciers many thousands of years ago, Moraine Park is a haven for wildlife. A beautiful spot to enjoy a full day of hiking along its many trails - Mill Creek Basin and Fern Falls offer some particularly spectacular scenery - there’s always something new to discover as you make your way through the park’s undisturbed wilderness.

Blanketed by swathes of wildflowers and fringed by towering, fragrant pines, this stunning park offers a blissful escape from the bustle of Colorado’s ski resorts. To get there, it’s a quick 15-minute drive from the pretty alpine town of Estes Park and just under three hours from Breckenridge.

Trail Ridge Road

Reaching elevations of over 12,000 feet, Trail Ridge Road is a scenic 48-mile roadway that traverses through the dramatic peaks and Alpine tundra of the Rocky Mountains. If you’re planning a bit of a road trip during your vacation, then it doesn’t get much better than this.

Aptly named the ‘Highway to the Sky’, the steep ascent and sharp curves might put a lot of people off, but keen explorers will be rewarded with the most magnificent vistas. Just be sure to keep an eye out for all the designated viewpoints, allowing you to safely park and snap a photo of those spectacular mountain scenes.

Spirit Lake

A challenging 16-mile trek along East Inlet Trailhead on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park will eventually lead you to the placid waters of Spirit Lake. Hidden among tall, towering pines, this mesmerising alpine lake offers the perfect rest stop after a strenuous hike through the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains.

You won’t find any day tours taking visitors to Spirit Lake - the sheer distance of the six to nine hour trek is a little too much for most - but that can only be good news for those who like to roam away from the beaten track and well-trodden tourist trails.

Shadow Mountain

Overlooking the rippling waters of Grand Lake, the summit of Shadow Mountain soars at an impressive 10,155 feet. Sat right on the southwestern edge of the Rocky Mountains, the ascent to the top of the mountain actually starts just outside the national park but quickly winds its way back through.

The views from the top are best enjoyed during the autumn months when the dense forestland beneath transforms into a colourful patchwork blanket of deep reds, golds and oranges.

Kawuneeche Valley

Discover the wild beauty of Kawuneeche Valley along the Coyote Valley Trail, a gentle mile-long hike alongside the Colorado River. Teeming with wildlife in every season, the green pastures of Coyote Valley are home to herds of moose, elk, and deer - while golden eagles and osprey are often seen soaring overhead. This family-friendly trail is perfect for bringing a picnic bag along, with plenty of scenic rest stops to enjoy a tasty lunch together along the way.

With the steady rushing sounds of the river as your only distraction, it’s hard to imagine that the highways and skyrises of Denver are just a two-hour drive away.

The onefinestay experience

Here at onefinestay, we specialise in bespoke vacations. Whether you’re a keen skier or simply looking to discover the awe-inspiring beauty of the Colorado Rockies, we’ve prepared a selection of exclusive concierge services to ensure that your break is as memorable as it should be. From private chef hire to at-home spa experiences, you’ll be given these options when you book your stay with one of our Travel Advisors. Everything is taken care of before you touch down at Denver or Eagle County, so you can simply turn up and unwind!

Ready for an unforgettable adventure in the Rocky Mountains?